Here is the winning image for Alien Skin’s October Photo of the Month award. The photo-sharing theme for last month’s contest was shadow. Congratulations to Sharon Siciliano Covert!

Judge

This month’s guest judge is acclaimed Norwegian portrait photographer Anne Helene Gjelstad. She’s a big fan of Exposure, so she’s a great choice to help choose the winner for our monthly photo contest.

Winner

About the winning shot, Anne Helene said, “The winning image leads my thoughts into the deep emotions, our internal shadows. We all carry something hidden within ourselves, that comes as part of our generational inheritance; our shadows. This image is dreamy, subtle and strong and evokes feelings and memories. What it provides visually is just enough to intrigue me to want to know more. It’s a beautiful image where the shadows and empty space play important roles.”

Sharon shares great-looking photos in the Exposure Users group on Facebook quite often. She’s won the monthly photo contest before, so if you follow the blog, you already know what makes her tick. This time, she tells us a little more about her great-looking self portraits.

What makes a successful self portrait?

For me, a successful self portrait will reveal a message or tell part of a story. It will make you feel something. I recognize light, composition, and technique all play into it, but there is so much more to it than technical image details. I’m not doing this just to take a pretty picture. I’m doing it to stir your soul.

Do you have any advice for someone interested in taking self portraits?

The best advice I can give is to just do it. Make the work. Learn from your mistakes. If you’re anything like me, you’re going to make them! Sometimes the best images can come from experimentation. No idea is too far-fetched and no story is unworthy of telling.

What got you started taking self portraits?

I honestly never imagined I would be taking self portraits. It came into my life during a difficult time of loss and grief. I began experimenting with expressing my emotions through self portraiture and soon came to realize the healing benefits of art.

What motivates or inspires you when taking self portraits?

Creating self portraits and telling stories through them has become such an important part of my life. If a day or two goes by without me creating one I feel an ache inside, an emptiness. The seasons have become a way of stirring artistic inspiration over the last year. I’ve never been too fond of winter, but find myself looking forward to winter’s backdrop this season.

How does Exposure help complete your photos?

My images are never complete without bringing them into Exposure, and most recently Exposure X2. I have my go-to looks for every image whether it be black and white or color. No matter how much editing I do in another program, I always add one of Exposure’s presets as well. Two of my favorite features are the light leaks and the textures. I love how the corner lights can mimic a soft light coming in from a window and help to highlight the subject or an important detail.

Every effect I apply in Exposure can be easily adjusted, which is very important. When I’m working outdoors and using smoke canisters, there are several light leak effects that add to the dreamlike effect of the smoke. The dust textures I use in Exposure seem to add a nighttime quality as if the stars are out. My images are incomplete without features like these. All of my finishing touches are made in Exposure.

What would you suggest to people interested in using Exposure?

Aside from the great tutorial videos, I would suggest engaging in the blog and joining the Exposure Users Facebook group. You can find so much inspiration from the talented artists sharing in these places. With a free trial being offered it’s really a no-brainer! The software is worth every penny and will, without a doubt, play an important role in your workflow. Exposure helps bring your art to the next level.

To learn more about her, visit her on Facebook, Instagram, and on her blog and website.

Runner Ups

There were a bunch of great-looking photos shared last month, some of them are listed below. Congratulations to everyone who submitted. These are amazing!

Next Month’s Contest

Prizes

Photo of the Month award winners receive a few items from Alien Skin Software. They get one of our super soft tri-blend t-shirts and a laser-engraved 16GB thumb drive loaded with all of our photography software. What more could one want?

Monthly Theme

The monthly photo-sharing theme for November is healing. If you’d like to enter, get your best shot for that topic posted before the 1st of December. Stay connected with all of the happenings in the Exposure and Snap Art Users groups over on Facebook. The announcement posts are pinned at the top of the groups on or around the first of each month.